Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Blind Horizon"

This movie stars Val Kilmer. In it, Kilmer plays a guy with amnesia who thinks he's somehow involved in a plot to assisinate the president. The Phantomess and I are in disagreement over the value of Val. She doesn’t have much use for him after his second movie, “Real Genius.” While I agree that my favorite Kilmer performances were in his initial two films (the first being the hilarious “Top Secret”), I think he’s shown a capacity for good performances since. Granted, those are very rare. Most often, it’s due to the garbage scripts he finds himself saddled with in low-rent movies like the one Channel 7 is showing this Sunday night, or with muddled scripts in movies with good intentions, like the first Joel Schumacher debasing of the caped crusader, “Batman Forever;” the blind man who falls in love “At First Sight” chick flick; or the hard-to-follow and surprisingly inert adaptation of the classic British spy series, “The Saint.” Other times he’s just been deceived into appearing in incoherent messes masquerading as allegedly prestigious projects like the third go-round of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (enticed no doubt by the prospect of co-starring with the by-then dilapidated Marlon Brando.).

Despite a plethora of poor script choices and poor eating habits the past 13 years, the Phantom cannot concede to the missus that Val hasn’t scored since playing Nick Rivers and Chris Knight. He was a marvelous Doc Holliday in “Tombstone;” brought the right amount of cool to the ghost of Elvis in “True Romance;” and received great reviews for two films the Phantom didn’t see, “Wonderland” and ”Spartan.” Monetarily, he also managed to appear in major roles in at least three blockbuster hits – along with his Bat-flick he engaged audiences in ”Top Gun” and ”Heat.”

Today, he’s providing the voice of “Kitt” the car in the television reboot of David Hasselhoff’s cult classic hit ”Knight Rider.” Provided the remake is still on the air, that is (the Phantom doesn’t keep track of what TV shows are on, let alone what’s been canceled). He takes over for the obliquely funny Will Arnett, formerly of the brilliant TV series “Arrested Development” as well as two recent features the Phantom hasn’t seen that look well beneath his talents (you tell me – here’s one; here’s the other.).

Here’s a tasty tidbit from Kilmer’s past: he and Kevin Spacey were classmates and members of the drama club at Chatsworth High School in California, and then again at the famous college of performing arts, Juilliard. While there, Spacey borrowed money from Kilmer’s well-off parents… and never paid it back! Lest you think this an urban legend, this was recounted directly by Kilmer in a Cinema Confidential interview and elsewhere.

Kilmer is supported here by some familiar faces. Although she probably doesn’t want to be referred to as such, Neve Campbell is primarily known as “the girl from the ‘Scream’ movies.” In this one, she has the misfortune to be sporting a Selma Blair haircut. But the Phantom is confident that’s where the similarity ends… after all, Campbell can act.

Faye Dunaway of course is the famous Oscar® winning actress with two infamous roles that are probably of most interest to Landfill readers who go in for over-the-top hysterics. Those of course would be her portrayals of actress Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” and the villain in “Supergirl” (someone should sign her up to be in a Lifetime movie, if she hasn’t appeared in one already)! Those scenery-chewing extravaganzas aside, the Phantom gives Dunaway credit for publicly calling out Hollywood’s long-standing practice of pairing ever-aging leading men with ever-younger leading ladies.

Also on board here is Amy Smart. The Phantom knows he’s heard of her, and probably has seen her in something or other, but he couldn’t really pick her out of a line-up. But apparently she has quite the TV and movie career going for herself. “Blind Horizon” must have been a detour.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that Oscar® nominee Sam Shepard is also in this. But there’s just too much to write about him and the Phantom has already written too much already on this film, so I’m going to direct you to his wiki profile instead.

I had a choice of two trailers to share with you for this one. The home video promo seems to be the most appropriate for the Late Nite Landfill – it is full of the “over-the-top heightened escalation” that is a hallmark of Channel 7’s late nite movie. And it is mighty “base” in its approach – exploitive to the hilt, seeking to appeal to a lowest common denominator (as opposed to the theatrical trailer that tries to pass off the flick as a thought-provoking indie film - which you can watch by clicking here).

View the video promo for this film here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 29th at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

"The Circuit 2"

The scariest thing about “The Circuit 2” is the number 2, which implies that there was a first installment. Hard to believe when watching the trailer for this that anyone would be clamoring for a follow-up, but then again, maybe I’m just not the target audience... although I’m not sure who is. I just don’t like prison movies with inmates beating each other up, but they seem to be a popular genre (and sub-genre, if you count the women-in-prison movies also popular with male audiences – whose popularity is even more perplexing to fathom).

I prefer my prison movies intentionally funny – you know, comedies starring the likes of Laurel & Hardy or Wheeler & Woolsey, or to give more modern examples, Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor or Leslie Nielsen.

Anyway, to make matters more unseemly, this film revolves around a corruptly run prison that allows an “underground fight club,” so I guess they’re trying to extend the appeal beyond mere criminals roughing each other up to the notion of a “club” with rules and codes (like “Fight Club”)… except just like that cult hit there really are no rules during the actual fighting. That mindset has somehow creeped from “reel” to “real life” in those “Ultimate Fighting” competitions I find oh so disturbing. Indeed, the rules only apply to everything but the fight in “The Circuit 2,” as the inmates here are fighting to the death.

So you either like this kind of movie or don’t. I don’t. But I do enjoy digging into the backgrounds of the principle stars, surely a more entertaining endeavor than watching this dreck. So here goes:

Olivier Gruner was the first French Kickbox Champion and also became a World Champion Kickboxer before becoming a model and an actor – primarily in martial arts-themed action films. Of special interest to Late Nite Landfill readers is that he starred in “Soft Target,” a film penned by our friend and fellow Landfill reader William C. Martell. Another friend, Matt Porier (aka “The Direct-to-Video Connoisseur”) wrote a nice review of the same film under its alternate title, “Crooked.”

I saw the name “Michael Blanks” in the credits and of course I did what you would do: I asked myself, could he be related to the famous Tae Bo workout guru, Billy Blanks? Of course he could… and is! The Blanks are brothers.

But I’ve saved the best for last. The main star of this film is one Lorenzo Llamas. Where to start? Maybe with the Phantom’s mother – when I was a kid, my Mom thought Lorenzo was hot stuff on the prime time soap “Falcon Crest.” Kind of weird to me, all things considered, as my Mom was otherwise silent on such matters. Llamas’s life after that soap became a soap opera unto itself. It seems he got into the habit of collecting pretty young wives. Of course, the sticky problem there is what to do with the previous wife, especially if you picked the new model up from the showroom before trading the old one in. Usually because both Llamas and his soon-to-be-previous wife were in the middle of shooting a movie and who can afford to recast in the middle of a shoot? Little did the leading lady now that when Lorenzo yelled “cut!,” he wasn’t just talking about finishing the film.

Womanizing dads almost always fall to the curse of having a daughter of their own... one who either attracts boys that are as much dogs as he was, or worse, daddy’s little girl herself is a devil-may-care fatale. Recently, Lorenzo’s daughter Shayne competed on the show “The Bachelor” and won the heart of the title star. Or at least was chosen by him. Now they’re engaged. Will Shayna have a better marriage record than her dad? Only time will tell.

I mentioned upfront that the number “2” was a scary prospect signaling there was more than one of these flicks. During the course of my video clip research (you know, for that bonus content you’ll get by clicking the bold green words), I made a horrifying discovery: there was even a “Circuit 3!”

View the trailer for “The Circuit 2” here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 28th at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Hello, Late Nite Landfill fans. This is your 'ol pal, the Phantom of the Landfill reporting that I'll be on the road for the next 48 hours. I've started the posts for this weekend's late night Channel 7 offerings but I need time to refine them, so look for them sometime Friday or Saturday. Believe me, they will be worth the wait - unless Channel 7 changes the schedule between now and then, you have films featuring Lorenzo Llamas and Val Kilmer to look forward to. In the meantime... enjoy this intermission!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Late Nite Landfill reviews now linked to on!

I’m pleased to announce that the majority of my reviews are now featured on (the Internet Movie Database). My reviews can be found when you click “external reviews” on a movie’s page. For example, say you were on the site and you were looking up Lance Henriksen movies and came across the imdb entry for “Antiobody.” Well, you would click where it says “external reviews” and among the reviews listed you’ll see “The Late Nite Landfill.” Click on those words and it will take you to your’s truly, the Phantom’s review of “Antibody.” As a camper whose campfire blew out hours ago once said, “cool beans!”

LINKS – they’re not just for breakfast anymore!

Hello phans. This is the Phantom of the Landfill here, reminding (and encouraging) you to check out the links that are hidden throughout the posts on this blog. The Phantom has worked hard to bring you the best in bonus content. If you haven’t been clicking on the bold green words, here’s what you’ve been missing:

• Joe Penny at target practice (for real)
• Aidan Quinn reading Kafka's "Metamorphosis" aloud
• Jean-Claude Van Damme “dirty dancing”
• Henry Winkler as The Fonz teaching kids to scream when strangers try to abduct them
• A Sylvester Stallone noodle commercial from Japan

...and tons of other celebrity commercials, music videos and oddball clips from around the world.

BUT… I’m not going to link to them in this post. You’ll have to search through the other posts on this blog to find them. Just like "Easter Egg" surprises on DVDs. Happy hunting!

"Eight Days to Live"

I know, I know. The Phantom is starting to sound like a broken record. But it’s not my fault. Channel 7 insists on running movies that premiered on Lifetime back in 2006. They must have gotten a great deal on these flicks, so they’ve liberally spread them into the mix among the direct-to-DVD dreck. And every time out, I mention how the films are usually shot in Canada, feature Canadian actors, are released on DVD in other countries and let’s not forget the “over the top, zero-to-sixty, heightened escalation” factor. What else can I do? These are the unifying factors of all recent Lifetime “original” movies. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

One thing I’ve missed in previous posts: apparently these movies are also shown on CTV – Canadian TV out of Winnipeg, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. And tonight’s entry, “Eight Days to Live” had the distinction of garnering that network’s highest ratings up until that time. I don’t know if anything has surpassed it yet, but when originally aired on CTV, “Eight Days…” was seen by two million people.

The Phantom is willing to bet that’s substantially more than will be watching this Sunday night when WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York airs it on the Late Move.

There is one element in “Eight Days to Live” that shows up in a lot of these Lifetime movies that I haven’t previously mentioned: the family member doggedly pursuing answers to the mystery surrounding another missing and/or murdered family member. This of course is not relegated to just Lifetime movies. Such mainstream fare as “In the Bedroom,” Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey” and others covered similar ground. Okay, maybe “mainstream” is not the word to use for any of those. “Theatrical releases” is a better word, as none of those films were designed to appeal to the masses (they found more success in the art-houses and theaters catering to independent movies).

In this one, a missing woman’s son disappears after veering off the road, and now she must find him to try to save his life.

It’s got the usual assortment of Canadian actors, most who have done both US and Canadian TV and spotty film work. Overall, based on the ensemble’s credits it’s one of the more well-casted Lifetime films. These all seem like competent actors. Among them are:

Kelly Rowan from “The O.C” heads the cast as the mother. She has many film and TV credits, and for this film, she also served as a producer. She was also an executive producer on another film she made for Lifetime and CTV, 2007’s “In God’s Country,” which has as its subject matter something rather timely at the moment: women trapped in polygamist communities.

Katherine Isabelle as a girlfriend of the son also has a lot of film and TV credits, including a recurring role (the main role) in the “Ginger Snaps” horror film series. The Phantom saw and thoroughly enjoyed the original “Snaps” – it was a refreshing reboot of werewolf movies for the new generation, complete with dark humor and meaningful subtext for its star and core audience.

Shawn Doyle continues the parade of actors with several gigs under his belt. Right now, he has a recurring role on the latest cable-TV “let’s make something out of the norm seem normal” show, “Big Love” (refer back to my comment above re: “In God’s Country”).

While his career is so far less extensive than those mentioned above, Ryan McDonell is a talent bubbling under, and has thrilled audiences as Lt. Gonzo Pike on the Sci-fi Channel’s revamp of “Battlestar Galactica.”

Ryan’s “Battlestar” co-star Ty Olssen (LSO Capt. Aaron Kelly) is also a journeyman with many credits, including a recurring role as Sam the Plow Guy on the short-lived Anne Heche series, “Men in Trees.”

Michael Eklund is a veteran of such Uwe Boll movies as “Black Woods,” the video game adaptation “House of the Dead,” and “Bloodrayne II: Deliverance.” If you haven’t heard of director Boll by now, that’s probably a blessing. He is just about universally reviled by most (see the site “Uwe Boll Must Be Stopped”) although he does have that rare supporter. If you’re intrigued to learn more, click here or here.

Last but not least, there’s Gwyneth Walsh, who played Patricia DaVinci, a coroner and ex-wife of Dominic DaVinci, also a coroner and titular star of the exceptional Canadian police procedural drama, “DaVinci’s Inquest.” By the way, “Inquest” is often run on American TV in the wee hours, and is a much better option than the Late Movie, provided you’re looking for quality and not kitsch.

I don’t have a trailer for this one, but you can view a clip here (NOTE: disregard the date scrolling across the bottom of the frame – that date was the original TV airdate):

Eight Days to Live

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Another (different) installment of Robocop: Prime Directives (“Crash & Burn”)

A few weeks ago I wrote about “Robocop: Prime Directives.” I erroneously stated that it was one movie comprised of bits and pieces of four separate movies (aka “four movies rolled into one”).

Apparently The Phantom had that wrong. It appears that “Robocop: Prime Directives” is actually the heading for a series of four movies, and that each of those four movies is about 2 hours long. So Channel 7 has actually been running each 2 hour installment, not a compilation of clips.

Whether they are running them in the right order or not I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that they ran one shortly before I started writing this blog (around January), and then ran another in late May. This of course begs another question: if these four movies fit together to make one story, why run them so far apart? But we’d need to answer the first question (are they being run in sequential order?) first.

I wrote everything I had to say about the “Prime Directives” series and Robocop in general in my post of a few weeks ago, so I invite you to revisit it. I also included a trailer in that post that covers all four of the movies in the series.

And that leaves us with this tonight’s specific installment, which according to is subtitled “Crash & Burn.” You can view a brief “behind-the-scenes” featurette here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 21st, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Well Landfill fans, the Phantom has a special treat for you: a guest post from the Phantomess! She agreed to write about Sunday’s movie, “Past Sins.” It’s another of those movies that premier on Lifetime in the US but have a video release in the rest of the world (sometimes under a different title), and are usually filmed in Canada and loaded with Canadian TV actors. Like all Lifetime movies of recent vintage, it as that over-the-top, “zero-to-sixty heightened escalation factor” the Phantom oh-so-loves to poke gentle fun at.

NOTE: Like last weekend, the NBA playoffs
are still going on, so this movie will start at 12:05 AM instead of the usual 11:35 (and that makes it Monday, not Sunday).

Without further ado, here’s the Phantomess:

While preparing this week's entry, my husband the Phantom, master of puns (I call it “pun”-ishment), mentioned that he didn't recognize anyone in the cast. I said I knew who Lauralee Bell was, but that was about it. A longtime fan of fellow CBS soap (daytime drama if you prefer) “As the World Turns,” I've caught bits and pieces of her work as Christine "Cricket" Blair on "The Young and the Restless."

Though Christine/Cricket somehow managed to get kidnapped many times more than the average person over the years, Bell's talent blossomed as teen model Cricket matured into plucky, compassionate and accomplished attorney, Christine.

And Christine was married, at varying times of course, to two of daytime's hottest hunks, Michael “Rock On” Damian (singer Danny Romalotti) and Doug Davidson, who has portrayed private eye Paul Williams for 30 years.

Here she battles with a pre-"Desperate Housewive's" Eva Longoria in 2003.

Bell holds the unfortunate distinction of being known as the ”Tori Spelling” of daytime soap operas. Part of the Bell dynasty--her parents, William and Lee Phillip Bell, co-created Y&R and sister show, ”The Bold & the Beautiful,” she started on the show while still in her teens. She bore the brunt when the late Terry Lester, who played the popular Jack Abbot, left the show in 1989. During interviews he said he felt his role on the show was steadily declining and singled her out, saying the powers that be had a little nepotism issue.

Bell, now a mother of two, focuses her time on an upscale boutique and makes guest appearances.

Of course, none of this says anything about the “Past Sins” film and honestly, I've never heard of it. I much prefer old-time Lifetime fare such as the two Betty Broderick movies starring Meredith Baxter. My ideal time would be a rainy day watching a double bill of "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story" and "Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter" followed by the ultimate true-crime miniseries "Fatal Vision," which originally aired on NBC in 1984 but was a Lifetime staple back in the network's infancy. Now those are great movies.

So there you have it, Landfill phans – the Phantomess has spoken! The Phantom abides.

Now, upfront I mentioned the time change for this Sunday’s movie. Just a reminder – the NBA basketball playoffs are on again this weekend, so the late news will once again start later and make The Late Movie into the late Late movie). “Past Sins” will start at 12:05 instead of the usual 11:35.

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 15th (wait, make that MONDAY MORNING, June 16th) at 12:05 AM... if you dare!

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Shaka Zulu: the Citadel"

Sometimes a blog entry is just handed to you like a gift. Sometimes, Channel 7 schedules a movie in its late night slot that, based on the lead actor alone, allows the blog to practically write itself (”Kill Me Later” comes to mind). This Saturday, Channel 7 presents just such a movie. A movie that enables you to read no further than the two words I’m about to type. Ladies and gentlemen... I give you...


That’s right, good ‘ol David Hasselhoff has finally put in an appearance on this blog.

Of course, I’m hoping you’ll continue to read on because amazingly, there are other dubious pleasures to be found in “Shaka Zulu: the Citadel.”

But first, the Hoff. Where to start? Primarily a TV actor, he is best known for interacting with a talking hot rod built for speed on “Knight Rider,” and for interacting with talking hot bods built for spandex and speedos on “Baywatch.”

But that’s not all... the Hoff is also a singer. Don’t believe me? Then watch this music video.

What’s that? You watched the video and still don’t believe me?

That won’t stop millions of people in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from buying his albums. He is to those countries what Jerry Lewis is to France. He’s not quite as big in Brazil, though.

These days, he splits his time between trouble with ex-wives, trouble with alcohol, trouble convincing the world outside of Europe to take his singing career seriously, and trouble staying on the set of “America’s Got Talent” when confronted by such stellar acts as Boy-Shakira. Ultimately, I have to give him credit for perseverance. He seems rather adept in the “keep on keepin’ on” department, able to keep standing tall (he’s 6’4” ) in the face of everything.

The backdrop of this movie is the historical and controversial Shaka Zulu, the warrior king and the Zulu nation he ruled (the controversy being that certain elements held to as fact by some are deemed fiction by others). The Phantom is inclined to believe a bit more than the basics, and is not bothered by the possibility that other elements may have been embellished (the majority of history books are almost always at least a quarter fiction after all).

There have been several TV and movie projects built around this theme, the most famous being the “Shaka Zulu” television mini-series from 1986. Some of these adaptations have been taken to task for their historical inaccuracies, but from accounts the Phantom has dug up on the web, it appears “Shaka Zulu: the Citadel” has all comers beat in the fiction department.

Amazingly, there are others besides Hoff in this cast. We’ve already spoken about Indy Jones’ gal pal Karen Allen back in this post about “Falling Sky.” And Omar Sharif is someone who’s been around forever who really should need no introduction, but in case you don’t know him, you can always imdb him. Or watch the trailer for “Dr. Zhivago.” Or better yet, watch this scene from one of my all-tme favorite movies, “Top Secret.”

Which leaves us with one other notable cast member... someone who puts this movie as much into the kitsch zone as the Hoff: Grace Jones!

She’s been a model, a singer, and an actress, with her biggest heyday coming in the 1980s. Let’s face it, she’s just one of those unique characters who people either love or are completely baffled by. And by unique I mean completely unique – she has a unique look, unique mannerisms, and unique movements, all of which you can see in the links above. Perhaps the producers felt her exotic presence would provide the perfect balance to Hoff’s ham-fisted heroics.
…and getting back to Hoff, he does have a tenuous tie to some of this summer’s biggest blockbusters: he was the first actor to play the role of Marvel Comics character Nick Fury, a role now savored by the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson.

I don’t have a trailer for this one, but I do have a clip with Miss Jones that you can view here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 14th, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


This film stars James Spader. He’s such a dominant personality that more than likely he’s the whole show here, or at least most of the show.

Spader came up with those “brat pack” actors in the ‘80s but in that context he never really fit in. He always came off smarter than his years (and peers), and sometimes a bit smug. Not good for magazines like Tiger Beat.

Eventually, everyone has to grow up, including high-profile high schoolers (even if most of them were out of high school when they hit the big time). Then the school of hard knocks kicks in, and most realize they can no longer trade off on whatever youthful eccentricity got them through a dozen John Hughes movies. Since Spader was already aping an (admittedly irresponsible) adult in his characterizations, the transition out of Hughes-land was smoother for him than most.

The character that most clearly defines the personality type Spader often plays is of course Alan Shore, originally one of several strong personalities from “The Practice” but now clearly the front-and-center star of “Boston Legal.” And I say that with no disrespect intended toward co-stars Candice Bergen or the irrepressible William Shatner. The fact is, Shore is the only character the show cannot survive without, in my opinion. He is the glue. I think the ever-rotating supporting cast of that show attests to that fact.

The Alan Shore character has made such a strong impression that Spader became the first actor ever to win a Lead Actor Emmy® for portraying the same character on two different series. Ed Asner won twice for playing Lou Grant on both the eponymously-titled drama and on the classic comedy, ”The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but his win for “MTM” came in the Supporting Actor category (and while we’re shuttling roles and numbers around, Asner has incidentally played two different judges on “Boston Legal”).

The roots of the Alan Shore character can be found in earlier Spader characters. As Steff in ”Pretty in Pink,” he essayed a new kind of school bully: the suit-wearing Yuppie bully. Just three years later he portrayed a sleazy “documentary” filmmaker coaxing women to do sexually revealing interviews in ”Sex, Lies and Videotape.” A year later, under the ”Bad Influence” of Rob Lowe, Spader’s Michael character rapidly progressed into slimeball-ness.

But it is his hysterical performance in an episode of “Seinfeld” that really showcased the perfect gelling of sleaziness with intensity and a knowing wit, and perhaps more than the above roles is really the blueprint for the Alan Shore character. I encourage you to click on the above link to see a condensation of that episode focusing strictly on Spader’s character’s storyline.

This leads to tonight’s movie, “Shadow of Fear.” When a young man accidentally murders someone, he finds himself entrenched in a “secret society” of people whose crimes could ruin them. It’s never a good idea to join a secret society, because then they’ve got the goods on you and how do you know you can trust them? It’s even worse if that society is run by Spader. Clearly, the accidental murderer never saw any of Spader’s work before. If only he had read this post first, he would have never joined up!

As needless as it seems to provide a backup cast that’s more than merely adequate when you've got someone as formidible as Spader at the controls, this film actually does deliver a great selection of supporting players. You’ve got Aidan Quinn as a detective, Peter Coyote as a congressman, Alice Krige as the congressman’s wife and Robin Tunney and Lacey Chabert as... well, I’m not sure exactly what their roles are but I’m sure they look cute playing those parts. You can imdb all of the above for their filmographies... they all have extensive bodies of work.

To reiterate, despite game support, this is clearly Spader’s show. And I’m not just playing favorites because he shares The Phantom’s birthday.

I mentioned the time change for this Sunday’s movie. Due to the NBA basketball playoffs, the late news will start later and consequentially so shall The Late Movie (making it the late Late movie). Channel 7 will start the movie at 12:05 instead of the usual 11:35. And that really makes it Monday's movie.

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 8th (wait, make that MONDAY MORNING, June 9th) at 12:05 AM… if you dare!

Friday, June 6, 2008

“One Last Ride”

It’s time for another venerable genre to take the spotlight: the addiction movie. These are the films where someone just can’t seem to quit some kind of addiction, and spends the movie either slipping further toward certain demise or miraculously overcoming the monkey on their back. They are just too numerous to mention here, and the Phantom will not be so foolhardy as to attempt to do so and risk leaving a good one out.

Addiction movies are no stranger to the Late Nite Landfill. A couple weeks ago, Channel 7 ran “Falling Sky,” about Indy Jone’s #1 gal pal Karen Allen fighting demon alcohol. In May, they aired “Phoenix,” a film about a cop with a weakness for poker chips and slot machines. And it seems that in any given movie in Channel 7’s late nite slot, there’s somebody who’s addicted to sex. Or mob hits. Now comes this Saturday’s movie, “One Last Ride.” Like “Phoenix,” this one explores the pursuit of gambling highs, but in a much more straightforward, traditional way (focusing on one man’s addiction in a realistic light, as opposed to making it part of a multi-layered storyline of conmen and crooked cops on the take).

A good rule of thumb is to be leery of films that are “produced” or “presented by” famous directors, for example Martin Scorcese or Quentin Tarantino. The video store shelves are lined with such lackluster efforts. What makes them lackluster? The obvious: they’re not actually directed by Martin Scorcese, he’s just being used as a brand name to lay over the main brand. Like Scooby-Doo-branded Snausage snacks for dogs or Budweiser-branded barbecue and grilling sauces.

“One Last Ride” falls into the same category. Ang Lee is an executive producer on this film and his name is prominently mentioned in the trailer. Lee of course is the Oscar® winning director of several critically acclaimed movies. His most lauded film is also about some folks who just can’t quit something, while his most well-known movie is sort of about addiction – if you count getting so angry that people wouldn’t like you when you’re angry as an addiction.

An interesting aside: this gambler's main "high" of choice seems to be the ponies. Could it be possible that the programmers at Channel 7 actually purposely scheduled this the same weekend as the Belmont Stakes, on the eve of a potential triple crown victor?

The main trio of characters is portrayed by television actors.

The addict is played by an actor whose main work appears to be scattered TV guest-shot roles but no ongoing roles, but that’s no surprise – Patrick Cupo also happens to be the writer and producer of the film.

His best friend in the film is played by Joe Marinelli, who also has a lot of guest-credits in prime-time but regular featured roles on various soaps... including a stint as a cross-dressing mafioso named Bunny on “Santa Barbara.”

Playing the wife is Anita Barone, who actually did have a couple of recurring TV roles, most notably the wife in the short-lived Michael Rappaport sitcom “The War at Home,” and netted a “best actress” award for this film from “Methodfest” (who knew method actors had their own awards ceremonies? Marlon Brando must be “role”-ing over in his grave!)

Of greater interest here, as is usually the case here at the Landfill, are the supporting performances.

Jack Carter is a classic stand-up comedy star who has popped up everywhere including Broadway, TV and movies. And Vegas, of course. Trivia time: he played Arthur Spooner in the “King of Queens” pilot, but when it became a series the role went to Jerry Stiller.

Chazz Palminteri has become a staple in movies with both mobster and cop roles. He rose to prominence on TV’s “Wiseguy” but really broke out once his one-man play, “A Bronx Tale” took off and was ultimately chosen by Robert DeNiro to be the first film he directed.

Charles Durning… where to begin? A lifetime of extraordinary character roles. Just go to your Netflix account, do a search on him and start adding his films to your queue. In fact, a couple of great “bookend” roles are his wonderful detective in “The Sting” and his equally wonderful (and much more irascible but still lovable with age) incumbent politician in “O, Brother Where Art Thou?”

Robert Davi belongs to the Phantom’s “coolest actors of the modern era” club. That exclusive club includes such awesome character actors as Bruce Campbell – Sam Raimi’s favorite muse, Lance Henriksen – Bishop from the “Alien” movies, Robert Patrick – of “Terminator 2” and “X-files” fame, Eric Roberts – of a bazillion cool flicks, and of course, the incomparable Christopher Walken. You’d do well to do a Netflix search on Davi, too… or as he suggests, Google him!

View the trailer here:

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, June 7th, 2008 at 11:35 PM… if you dare!